The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 21—1:30 p.m.]
567. I have been puzzling over the motivations of the Soviets in the recent Foreign Office reorganization12 and the possible effect on their future policies. I do not sense in my many talks with Soviet officials any difference in their immediate objectives from those disclosed to us at Moscow and Tehran in spite of the fact that the methods they are employing are crude and abhorrent to our standards of behaviour. I still believe it is their firm purpose to adhere to the stated objectives.
On the other hand developments outside the Soviet Union may influence their future actions. It seems entirely within the realm of possibility that after the collapse of the satellite countries their economic position as a result of the war and of possible indemnities placed upon them may become so difficult that, stimulated by the activities of the Communist Parties within these countries, there may [Page 945] develop a strong sentiment in favor of joining the Soviet Union as a so-called autonomous republic.
If the Soviet Union is able, and I believe it will be, to reconstruct speedily a secure and reasonably satisfactory life within the Union, the people in the adjacent countries may well look with envy across the border. Quick relief from intolerable economic conditions may have a great appeal for joining the Union. Thus without perhaps its now being the intention of the Soviet Government to expand the Union, pressure may come from the outside for expansion. Although it appears that the thinking of Stalin and his principal advisors is directed toward the consolidation and development of the Union within the limits of the territory already indicated, the revolutionary spirit is still alive within certain circles, at least of the Communist Party. Regardless of present intentions, pressure from the outside may make it difficult to resist imperialistic expansion. I have no knowledge of whether these ideas are at present within the thinking of the party. I have not however found any evidence that they exist among the responsible members of the Government.
I do not believe that the Soviets have any intention of fostering communism within Germany as they do not wish to take any responsibility for the well-being of the German people. What I say above therefore refers to the satellites and not Germany.
Although the Soviets have given us direct indications of their attitude toward Germany we have not discussed in any detail their attitude toward the satellites.
It would seem useful I believe if I were to take some opportune occasion to discuss the future of the satellite countries with Molotov and attempt to ascertain what the Soviet general attitude is.
In this connection it would be of use to me to be informed of what the Department’s present attitude is toward the reconstruction of economic life of these countries. UNRRA13 will give certain immediate but limited aid. Have any ideas been developed as to what will follow when UNRRA’s work is completed and what helping hand we are prepared to give to those countries in the later reconstruction period? Has the US sufficient interest in the development of sound economic conditions under a democratic form of government within those countries to justify a program being developed now through which it might be hoped that politically stable conditions might result? It would be helpful if I could be informed of any preliminary thinking of the Department on these questions.